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Sepp offered Gio deal after game

NewsBy Niall Donald
Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter
Giovanni Trapattoni
Giovanni Trapattoni

Former Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday sensationally claimed that Sepp Blatter offered him “a way to forget” the infamous Thierry Henry handball.

Speaking to the Italian media, Trapattoni said that Blatter spoke to him directly following the play-off match with France in Paris in 2009.

The ex-Juventus boss claimed that disgraced FIFA chief Blatter tried to a deal with him.

“I remember every moment of those seconds in Paris. Blatter said: ‘Meet me, we can find together a way out, a way to forget.’ I do not know what he wanted. I just know that when he gave me his hand, I did not give mine because I do not have two faces,” Trap said.

Trapattoni’s stunning revelations come just days after the FAI shocked the world by revealing they were given a sum of €5million by Blatter following the play-off match.

The infamous hand of frog..

On Friday, the FAI published a copy of a confidentiality agreement it reached with FIFA in the aftermath of the French game.

The document states: “On or before January 15, 2010, FIFA and FAI have entered into a loan agreement over five million euro as an inducement for the FAI to enter into this agreement.”

The extraordinary ‘sweetheart’ deal has made headlines all over the world as FIFA’s bizarre financial dealings continue to come under scrutiny from U.S. law officials.

The deal struck by the FAI has also come under criticism from some commentators and ex-players – including Keith Andrews – who have described it as a “bribe”.

However, speaking to the Sunday World yesterday, FAI chief John Delaney claimed it was time to move on and concentrate on football.

“I can see both sides of the argument, but, from my point of view, I saw it as good business for the association.
Confidential

“At this stage, I would like to draw a line under the whole thing. The most important thing now is the qualifying match against Scotland, as well as today’s match against England.”

This week, the FAI claimed they met with FIFA “to raise the hurt caused to the Irish people by what had happened, the damage done to football in Ireland and worldwide”.

Irish soccer chiefs said it was agreed the meeting would remain confidential, but days later Blatter made a joke of Ireland’s bid to be the World Cup’s 33rd team.

This was “in breach of confidentiality” and “brought reputational damage to the FAI” which led to the €5m payout being agreed at a meeting in Zurich.

Meanwhile, the Sunday World can reveal that FIFA is facing financial ruin as a result of the $150million bribery and corruption probe that has rocked world football.

The IRS, America’s tax authority, is poised to revoke the “non-profit” status of soccer’s ruling body in the United States that allows it to operate tax free, we can exclusively reveal.

Sources close to the investigation last night confirmed that FIFA and its North and Central American and Caribbean offshoot CONCACAF could be “wiped out” by back taxes and interest amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Irish players react after the handball

Officials found guilty of accepting bribes will also be individually targeted by the IRS, which is working alongside the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

One source declared: “The face of soccer will be changed forever. It may be impossible for FIFA or some of its subsidiaries to continue in their present form.”

Alexandra Wrage, a leading expert in corporate anti-corruption who resigned in frustration in 2013 after being hired by FIFA as part of Sepp Blatter’s phoney “road map to reform”, said: “The key to this is the term ‘self-enrichment’.

“If the IRS can show that FIFA has abused its non-profit status through the self-enrichment of its leaders, then it will go as far back as it legally can to claim full back taxes and compound interest.

“It’s impossible to say what such a figure might eventually be, but you would have to assume it will be substantial enough to cast doubt on the continuing existence of FIFA.”

Canadian-born Ms Wrage, who runs a consultancy in Houston, Texas, was so horrified by some of the practises she uncovered at FIFA’s HQ in Zurich, Switzerland that she waived her fee in its entirety so as not to risk “being tarred in any way by the same brush”.

She said yesterday that even 79-year-old Blatter’s resignation last week as FIFA president will not help save him or his colleagues from charges, adding:

“He knows he can’t walk away and will still, eventually, have to answer every allegation against him.

“He might try to sit it out in Switzerland, but the authorities here have indicated they will definitely seek to extradite him to the U.S.

“There’s no way he will be able to cut a deal. He’s the man at the top and the bullseye is on his back. The Feds are doing deals with smaller guys now with the express intention of garnering enough evidence to indict Blatter.”

The latest and, so far, the most powerful whistle-blower to emerge is football fugitive Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president who is on Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ list.

Warner (72), who is accused of taking a $10million bribe to vote for South Africa to stage the 2010 World Cup, vowed to reveal an “avalanche” of secrets and claimed to be living in fear for his life.

Ms Wrage told the Sunday World: “It sounds to me distinctly like he is a man who is trying to indicate to the authorities that he is ready to do a deal.

“Given that, in the FIFA hierarchy, he was only one step removed from the very top, one would have to conclude that any information he has of wrongdoing would lead straight to Blatter himself.

“I have no idea why Blatter would want to continue as head of FIFA even on an interim basis after resigning. His position is completely untenable and there is no doubt he is heading for a major fall.”

America’s FBI has confirmed it is running the FIFA probe along the same lines as a Mafia investigation, targeting lower, more vulnerable executives first in the hope they will eventually provide the evidence to ensnare much bigger fish.

Ms Wrage said: “What no-one should forget in this comparison is that, despite all his unlawful activities, it was the IRS that eventually brought Al Capone to justice in 1920s Chicago. Mr Blatter and FIFA might do well to read up on that.”